During a 5 day yoga immersion I was in recently, the teacher posed a question to the room filled with passionate, eager-to-learn-more yogis, most of us teachers. Why do you practice yoga? Knowing the answer to this question, he said, is essential to find clarity and purpose in teaching.
It's a simple question, yet a worthwhile one. Why do we do anything that we do?
After considering this question, I realized that my answer changes often. My practice is so intertwined in my life, and as my daily needs change, so does my practice and reasons for doing it.
I first came to yoga for the physical aspect. I was a teenager and of course I wanted a hot bod and a workout that I didn't hate, and as someone with a dance background, I found the fluid nature of yoga to be quite enjoyable. That was during my hot yoga days.
Some other reasons I have practiced yoga:
- to connect to my breath, relax, and de-stress
- to feel more grounded
- to foster appreciation for my body
- to explore, play, and be curious
- for the mindfulness, to be more present in the moment
- to cultivate physical and emotional strength and flexibity
- for the stability of the commitment
- because it feels good
All of these reasons (and others) explain why I practice yoga for myself, but also they make up the foundation of what I teach in my classes.
It is important to me to come back to this question again and again, for clarity. If I am specific about why I do this practice, what I am getting out of it, and why I feel passionate about it, then that gives me something concrete to offer to my students.
Teaching yoga to me is based in sharing my own experiences and offering options that I have learned along the way. As I often say in class, as the teacher, I am simply the guide; you, as the student, are the real teacher, you already have your answers. For some, yoga is a tool that can help connect them to their own inner wisdom, magnifying their truth.
And that right there, I suppose, is why I do yoga.